- Author: Andrea Peck
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: Purple Fernleaf Acacia
Latin Name: Acacia bayleyana purpurea
Planting zone: USDA 9-11
Size of Plant: This plant grows 20-30 feet tall and wide.
Bloom Description: Bright yellow globe-shaped blooms brighten your landscape from late winter into spring.
Exposure: Full Sun, will tolerate a bit of shade.
Pruning Needs: Minor pruning will improve the shape and health of the tree while promoting growth.
Water Needs: Low water needs once established.
Description: Acacia bayleyana purpurea is a small, evergreen tree originating in Australia. It grows quickly, is low-maintenance, easy on your water bill and interesting in the color department. Gumdrop-shaped flowers grace this tree just as the winter doldrums begin to set in. The plump, almost fuzzy-looking cheery-yellow blooms bounce against the sharp, somewhat harsh-looking deep purple and blue-gray leaves. It's all a bit rough-and-tumble, like kindergartners seated on The Rug. The combination seems to bring out the best in each other, however---so much so, that you may find yourself embroiled in deep neighborly conversations about the capricious nature of color. This tree is a sight when it blooms. It was the recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1993. To add to the drama, the flowers are sweetly fragrant, so don't be surprised if napping cats take up space underneath it. During the rest of the year the Acacia is quiet and behaved, though once it is comfortably mature, it will put out sizable seed pods. In general, it requires little pruning unless you'd like to shape it into something specific to really get the neighbors talking. It attracts birds and butterflies, which is not a real surprise considering all it has going for it. Deer are not interested in this tree, so you're safe there. Once established, it is sturdy enough to handle short periods of drought. It is also frost tolerant to about 20ºF. Equally happy inland and in a coastal environment, this is a nice specimen tree for your garden, just give it a sunny spot, well-drained, fertile soil and moderate irrigation and it'll be set to grow.